New York Attorney General Letitia James is calling on Google correct search results that direct individuals seeking abortions to dangerous and misleading anti-abortion clinics in the state — the latest action that the attorney general has taken to support and expand access to abortion care in New York.
In a letter to GoogleJames shared concerns and asked for immediate action when it comes to the alleged failure of Google Maps to distinguish between facilities that offer abortion services and those that do not.
According to James this could lead individuals seeking abortions to visit crisis pregnancy centers for care. The crisis centers websites often misrepresent that they provide abortions when they do not. Due to this misrepresented websites, crisis centers are often included in Google Maps search results for “abortion” when they actually exist to discourage them, the attorney general’s letter said.
“Given the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wadeit is more important than ever that New York stands strong in providing safe access to abortion,” James said. “New Yorkers, and others traveling to the state, should trust that Google Maps will provide accurate information and direct them to real and safe care. My office will do whatever is necessary to work with Google to make these changes and ensure that people can locate the reproductive health care facilities that they need.”
According to the attorney general’s office, Google is aware of these issues and has previously promised to address them. In 2018, Google agreed to investigate reports of CPCs included in abortion searches on Google Maps, and the following year the company said they were working on deciphering which facilities offer abortion and which interfere with an individual’s decision.
The attorney general is requesting that Google implement measures so that abortion-related search results show local facilities that are confirmed to provide abortion services.
“All people deserve access to safe, legal abortion — regardless of where they live,” said Georgana Hanson, interim president and CEO, Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts. “Now that the Supreme Court has overturned Roeit’s critical that people seeking abortion aren’t subject to misinformation and can find the closest trusted provider for care as soon as possible. Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) don’t provide abortion or offer a full range of health care, and they won’t give you honest facts about sexual health and your pregnancy options. When companies like Google don’t distinguish between CPCs and medically-licensed facilities, that harm is directly felt by patients. We are grateful that the attorney general is working to ensure that online information is accurate.”
New Yorkers who have questions, concerns, or incidents to report can contact OAG’s Health Care Bureau online or call 1-800-428-9071.
This latest development comes a day after James, along with 24 national law firms, and eight reproductive rights organizations announced they were joining forces to launch a hotline that will provide legal guidance, resources and information about legal rights to abortions.
James’ office announced the hotline’s launch on Tuesday. The announcement comes days after the Supreme Court of the United States ended constitutional protections for abortion that had been in place nearly 50 years in a decision by its conservative majority to overturn Roe v. Wade.
The 212-899-5567 hotline can be accessed at any time and will be available in 12 languagesthe attorney general’s office said.
Google did not immediately respond to News 4 New York’s request for comment.